Tartine Bread Again — with Improved Techniques

As many people are doing during this pandemic, I am baking bread more often now.  Three weeks ago I wrote about returning to Tartine breads, and I am continuing further down that path.  My breads are good now, most of the time, but the quality and taste have “plateaued” in my opinion.  Since I have the time now, I’ve decided to “up my game” in a couple of critical areas where I see room for improvement.

Fortunately, I’ve found a number of superb blogs and articles about artisan bread-making on the internet.  They helped me identify two skills I need to improve: (1) achieve a more vigorous bread starter and (2) learn how to stretch, fold, and shape the dough more effectively.  Here are just a few of the resources I’ve found to be helpful:

If you are a bread maker — novice, intermediate or expert — you should explore on your own and do what you find most comfortable.  There are a thousand good ways to do most of this, so just develop yours.  Practice and experience and plenty of mistakes — these will provide the learning.

This week I put two changes into practice.

Starter. I fed my starter twice a day, on a regular schedule (vs. once a day usually mornings —  but not consistently), and I played with another starter, too.  My main starter is fed 50/50 percent white bread flour and whole wheat.  The new one started with the seed of my original, but is fed with a mix of all-purpose and rye flours instead.

Folding.  I watched several good videos online for folding technique, and a used what I saw to adapt how I handled the dough.

The results were impressive and encouraging.  Here are the visual results.  The tastes are even better, especially when toasted.  I should have left the loaves in the oven 5-10 minutes longer to cook more thoroughly.


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